Aggies take momentum into Fresno

The New Mexico State (1-4, 0-1) football team will take on a tough WAC opponent in the Bulldogs of Fresno State (3-2, 1-1) this Saturday. The Aggies and Bulldogs will meet on the gridiron for the 17th time, with Fresno State holding a 16-0 lead in the series. Game time is set for 8:30 p.m. (MT) at Bulldog Stadium.

You can listen to all the action with the ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon and color analyst Jason Scott beginning at noon on KRGT 104 FM. Also catch the action in Spanish with Martin Cortez and Bob Sherman on Vista 98.7 FM. Cuyler Frank will also broadcast the game in Navajo from Aggie Memorial Stadium on KNDN 960 AM (Farmington) and KGAK 1330 AM (Gallup).

The game will be televised on ESPNU, with all the action being brought to you by play-by-play man Mark Neely and color analyst David Diaz Infante.

Aggies-Bulldogs series

The Aggies face the Bulldogs for the 17th time in school history Saturday, as New Mexico State visits Fresno State for the eighth time. The Bulldogs hold a 16-0 series lead over the Aggies.

The series dates back to the 1972 season when the Bulldogs traveled to Las Cruces. Fresno State won that game, 49-17. The Aggies would get a chance at revenge two years later as the Bulldogs again made their way to the Mesilla Valley, but NM State fell just short, 9-7. The two schools became conference foes in 1984 as both were members of the Pacific Coast Conference and the Big West until 1992 when Fresno State made the jump to the WAC. As conference opponents in the WAC, this will be their sixth meeting.

Scouting the Bulldogs

This season the Bulldogs have been a balanced team through the air and on the ground, averaging 250.0 yards passing and 133.2 yards rushing a game. FS has outscored its opponents 34.4 points per game to 31.8 this season. With a 3-2, 1-1 record the Bulldogs have been great in the red-zone, converting on 88 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line. This past weekend the Bulldogs fell to Hawai’i, 49-27, at home.

Individually for Fresno State, quarterback Ryan Colburn has thrown for 1,250 yards and 12 touchdowns in five games for FS, averaging 250.0 yards in the air. A.J. Ellis leads the rushing attack for FS, averaging 57.3 yards a game with two touchdowns, while Jamel Hamler and Rashad Evans lead the receiving corps. Hamler has 20 catches for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Evans has recorded 14 catches for 159 yards and one touchdown. Travis Brown leads the Bulldogs defense with 35 tackles on the season, followed by Desia Dunn with 31.

Last time against Fresno State in Fresno

New Mexico State senior wide receiver Chris Williams ran for a career-best 96-yard touchdown return, but it was not enough as the Aggies fell to Fresno State, 24-17, at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, Calif.

Chase Holbrook threw for 192 yards on 27-of-38 passing with one touchdown pass. Wide receiver AJ Harris led the receiving corps with nine receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. Williams recorded 126 return yards to go along with nine receptions for 55 yards. Derrick Richardson led the Aggies with 12 tackles, followed by Nick Paden with 10.

The Aggies started the game going three-and-out but the NM State defense responded by forcing a Fresno State fumble as Justen Alford recorded his first fumble recovery of his career. The NM State offense marched the ball down the field, converting on a fourth-and-one, as NM State got all the way down to the Bulldog six-yard line before stalling. Kyle Hughes then came in and nailed a 23-yard field goal attempt to give NMSU a 3-0 lead with 7:19 left in the first quarter.

Fresno State then put together a long drive starting at the Bulldog 25 yard line. The NM State defense dug its heels in and stopped the Bulldogs on a third-and-13 to force Fresno State to try a 30-yard field goal. The Bulldogs converted and tied the game at 3-3 with 1:19 remaining in the first quarter.

On the ensuing kick-off Aggie Chris Williams took the ball 96 yards for a touchdown, recording the longest kick-off return for a touchdown in his career, it was also fifth longest in school history. It was his second kick-off return for a touchdown in his career. Kyle Hughes would add his school record-tying 28th-straight extra point to give NM State a 10-3 lead with 1:05 left in quarter number one.

Fresno State opened the second quarter with another solid drive, scoring on a one-yard run by quarterback Tom Brandstater to tie the game at 10-10 with 12 minutes left in the half. On the ensuing kick-off, Marcus Anderson took the return and was stripped of the ball by Sharrod Davis, who took the ball for a touchdown, giving Fresno State a 17-10 lead with 11:51 remaining in the half.

After both offenses were unsuccessful on their next drives, the NM State defense forced the Bulldogs to punt. FS punter Robert Malone kicked one off the side of his foot and the Aggies took over at the Bulldogs 32 yard line. On a third-and-seven from the Fresno State 17 yard line, Holbrook hooked up with AJ Harris for a touchdown, pulling NMSU even at 17-17 with 6:22 to go in the half. The touchdown pass by Holbrook moved him into 36th all-time in NCAA history for touchdown passes in a career and moved Harris into the top-25 in NCAA for receptions in a career.

The Aggies forced the Bulldogs to punt on their next possession but were unsuccessful at moving the ball as the Aggies were also forced to punt, giving the ball back with 2:32 left in the half. Fresno State took the ball down the field and with just six seconds remaining in the half the Bulldogs were stoned by the Aggies at the one-yard line, as the gun sounded to end the half at 17-17.

Holbrook threw for 93 yards on 10-of-17 passing in the first half, as AJ Harris caught seven passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Nick Paden led the Aggies with seven tackles.

The third quarter was a defensive battle as both teams were unable to capitalize on their three possessions in the quarter.

Fresno State opened the final quarter of the game with the ball on the FS 45-yard line. Brandstater tallied his second rushing touchdown of the game on a one-yard run with 10:38 remaining in the game to give the Bulldogs a 24-17 lead.

The Aggies advanced the ball down to the Fresno State 19-yard line but failed on a fourth down conversion on their final drive of the game.

Last year against the Bulldogs

Junior running back Seth Smith recorded his third 100-plus yard rushing game of the season, but the New Mexico State football team fell to Fresno State, 34-3, at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, N.M. The game was nationally televised on ESPNU.

Smith ended the game with 105 yards on 19 carries. As a team, the Aggies out-rushed the Bulldogs, 238-189, including 78 yards from sophomore quarterback Jeff Fleming.

The Aggies earned the first points of the game on sophomore kicker Kyle Hughes’ 32-yard field goal. The score resulted from a career-long 70-yard rush from Smith.

On Fresno State’s following series, the NM State defense collected its first takeaway of the contest when junior defensive tackle Chris Romero recovered FS junior quarterback Ryan Colburn’s fumble. The pick-up was Romero’s career first. The Aggies couldn’t convert on the turnover because of a missed 42-yard field goal.

The Aggies contained the Bulldogs in the red zone when junior defensive back Davon House intercepted a Colburn pass in the end zone. The pick was the eighth of House’s career, and he now owns the No. 10 spot on NM State’s all-time interception list.

Fresno State claimed a 7-3 lead when junior defensive back Lorne Bell returned redshirt freshman Trevor Walls’ interception 17 yards for a touchdown. On their following possession, the Bulldogs added a 23-yard field goal for a 10-3 advantage.

Fleming sparked the Aggie ground game when he entered the game with seven-play, 67-yard drive. The Aggies were stopped as FS junior linebacker Ben Jacobs blocked a Hughes 30-yard field goal.

Fresno State finished the first half with a 43-yard field goal to take a 13-3 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs committed their third turnover of the game when sophomore defensive end Donte Savage forced a fumble. Senior defensive back Chris Buckner recovered the ball for the Aggies at their own 16-yard line.

Savage records two sacks

Savage had a career night for the Aggies in a 16-14 win over New Mexico. He led the team with nine tackles, while recording the Aggies’ first two sacks of the season. He also tallied four tackles for a loss of 33 yards and forced two fumbles, one of which gave NM State the ball back and led to the game-winning field goal. Savage also recorded two pass break-ups.

He was named Defensive Lineman Player of the Week by College Football Performance Award for his efforts against the Lobos.

On the season, Savage has 19 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two pass break-ups and two forced fumbles. He ranks second in the WAC in forced fumbles and 23rd in the nation.

For his career, Savage has 83 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, four pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt. He needs just six more sacks to break into the top-5 for sacks in a career. Andre Anderson holds the fifth spot with 16 career sacks.

Manley leads Aggies on game-winning drive

Freshman quarterback Andrew Manley waited until the final five minutes of the New Mexico game this past weekend to make his impact felt. Manley stepped in and drove the Aggies down the field after the defense forced a Lobo fumble.

Down 14-13, Manley took the Aggies 40 yards on eight plays, completing 2-of-2 passing, including a long of 21 yards to Marcus Allen inside the 5-yard line. Four plays later, the Aggies hit the game-winning field goal with 1:56 remaining in the game.

Rust solid in first start

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner Rust made the most of his first start for the Aggies, guiding the Aggies to a 16-14 win over New Mexico. Rust threw the ball just 10 times for six yards but ran the ball for 31 yards on 14 carries. On the season, Rust is 8-of-18 passing for 33 yards and an interception.

Stampler hits game-winning field goal

Freshman kicker Tyler Stampler hit three field goals in the Aggies’ win over New Mexico, 16-14. He recorded a long of 39 yards in the first quarter, followed by a 34-yarder late in the same quarter. Stampler would hit the game-winning field goal with just 1:56 left in the game, a 22-yard attempt. Stampler becomes the first Aggie kicker to hit three field goals in a game since Nov. 6, 2004.

On the season, Stampler is 5-of-6 on field goals, hitting 4-of-5 between 30-39 yards and 1-of-1 between 20-29 yards. He also leads the Aggies in scoring with 21 points. Stampler is also 6-of-7 on PAT’s this season.

Clay does it on the ground and special teams

Sophomore running back Robert Clay got his first start at running back for the Aggies against New Mexico, rushing for 44 yards on 11 carries, his first carries of the season. Clay was also huge on special teams, recovering a muffed punt in the end zone right before halftime. It was Clay’s first career touchdown.
On the season, Clay has four tackles on special teams. Clay becomes the first Aggie to record a touchdown off an opponent’s muffed punt since the mid 1980s.